The safety and reliability of rail transportation is a relevant theoretical and practical problem of modern engineering. This study is devoted to the problems of permanent way operation. The permanent way is a key component of the rail infrastructure that takes and transfers the axial load from the rolling stock wheels, directs its movement, guarantees smoothness, and largely limits the maximum permissible speed and tonnage. The review section covers the main design trends and current promising designs of the permanent way. Complex and non-homogenous operating conditions, reaching the engineering limit of strength improvement for the tracks, using high-tonnage and high-speed rolling stock – these are the main aspects that determine and direct the efforts aimed at improving and increasing the reliability of the permanent way. This paper offers an alternative approach to evaluating the reliability of the permanent way construction, and developed and tested mathematical models of component failures. The assumption is that by creating a single public universal database of such failures, which are based on standard characteristics and parameters of their reliability and durability, it is possible to conduct an additional evaluation of fail-safety and operability of permanent way components at the design stage, as well as to find new ways to improve said components.
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